The first day of the Latitude Festival in 2018 was also the thirty-third anniversary of Live Aid. I believe that in the main music has moved on amazingly since those heady singalong days of parallel shows in London and Philadelphia. Opening the Obelisk Arena Stage and the first day of the festival were the Go! Team. This stunning eight piece indie funk combo are now on their fifth album. The highlights for me were the bombastic “Mayday” and the sublime dance sounds of “Lady Flash”. i reckon this lot were early contenders for funkiest band of the weekend.
Deap Valley blew the roof off the tent housing the BBC Music Stage. Power pop punk all the way from California. You couldn’t tell from their piledriving performance here but Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy met seven years ago at a crochet class. Despite that they are more full on ballsy and bluesy than the White Stripes and many others that came before them. The Aussie Danish hybrid of Palace Winter kicked off the action on the Sunrise Arena Stage and were recommended to me by my friend Ann, her sister is a massive fan of this lot. They are indeed a good band, very deep, dark and at times Beatles-esque and when they fully wigged out I even heard traces of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. The band almost didn’t get here on time. Their flight was delayed by Air Force One landing at Stansted Airport bring the Mango Mussolini to Britain.
Sun Scream hit the Lake Stage with the full power of an out of control ocean-going super tanker. Some awesome indie pop from this bunch of funsters from John Peel’s home town of Bury St. Edmunds. I made my first visit to the Speakeasy for Dr Rosy Carrick’s Passionate Machine. This was essentially a winding, weblike, wonderful story about time travel which featured Rocky Balboa and David Bowie references. I think that I now truly believe in time travel; “oh no love you’re not alone!” I only caught the last song of Marlon Williams’ set sadly. But boy this dude has a voice that could split a planet in two! French band La Femme took control of the Obelisk Arena Stage with their Gallic electro pop. I reckon they were probably the coolest looking band of the day. They count Jean Michel Jarre among their growing army of fans and their second album ‘Mystere’ is released in September.
I have seen Madrid popsters Hinds before. These girls know how to party hard and they have a collection of songs that will make you want to do the same. The audience at the BBC Stage lapped up possibly the biggest indie band ever to emerge from Spain. Due to my sometimes poor logistical skills I ended up at the Obelisk Stage when I should have been elsewhere. But that mistake gave me the opportunity to witness the love child of Rufus Wainwright, Little Richard and Nat King Cole. His name is Benjamin Clementine and he is utterly bloody amazing. He had the late afternoon audience eating out of his hands, especially during the sing along moments. He has been around for a while and won the Mercury Music Prize back in 2015 for his album ‘At Least For Now’. He has also more recently been a collaborator on the new Gorillaz LP.
The next band to grace the BBC Music Stage during my travels across the beautiful landscape of the Latitude Festival site was …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. These Texas rockers were playing their 2002 record ‘Source Tags And Codes’ in full. Their dark, melodic rock remains a very attractive proposition. Surely the band’s name is a top contender for one of the greatest band names ever. One of York’s finest bands, The Howl And The Hum made their first ever Latitude appearance on the Lake Stage. I have seen this band a few times now and they get a little better every time that I see them. They are shaping up to be a truly great British band with influences from Pink Floyd, XTC and Pulp to name just a few. Their new single “Don’t Shoot The Storm” is potentially their best song in their career to date. It sure as hell brought the house down at Latitude. Lower Slaughter a Glasgow and Brighton four piece came along and pulverized the Lake Stage audience into submission with some mountainous punk power and perpetual, relentless energy.
The Music and Film Arena was home to the marvellous Lump a project of Mike Lindsey and British folk superstar Laura Marling. It was charming, eerie and whimsical rock with a soft prog vibe. A stunning achievement. Rather cheekily though, given Laura’s background in folk, I so wanted to shout “Judas!” I sensibly chose not to though. These days the Charlatans are essentially a heritage band. They did however put on an enthusiastic and danceable show from the part that I saw. My highlight was “North Country Boy” although their new material left me a bit cold. I had a wonderfully different and somewhat new experience watching Tune-Yards on the BBC Music Stage. I have heard great drum ‘n’ bass and I have witnessed talented and intelligent use of looping. This combination produced a lively and heavenly dance set.
I had been looking forward to seeing Solange from the moment the Latitude 2018 headliners were announced and she was not a disappointment. From the preshow playing of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Secret Life Of Plants’ album over the PA I had a feeling it was going to be special. The stage was sparse and white, featuring a huge globe and two pyramid like constructions. The lighting was only ever one colour at a time and no spot lights were used. The choreography and coördination of movement for everyone on stage was perfect and harked back to the golden days of watching 60s Motown groups go through their meticulously syncopated dance routines. Solange herself is an incredibly talented performer; her vocals are pitch perfect and soulful. All the hits were there, the show was book-ended by “Rise” and other highlights were “Crush” and “Losing You”, but I doubt that anything like the hook line from “F.U.B.U.”, “All my niggas in the whole wide world” has ever rang out across Henham Park before! This showcased modern R & B at its finest. For me Solange is every bit as good as her sister!
Public Service Announcement: All pictures are from my phone, apart from the pink sheep shot which I found on line. All videos are sourced from YouTube. If you own the copyright to any of these please let me know and I will be happy to either give you a named credit or take the picture or video down.